OkCupid. It’s a fine online-dating service. Free. Not sketchy, unless you’re meeting someone “normal” and then he tells you he can’t drive and “hey, can you pick me up?” and “sure” and then you find out he has gangrene in his leg that prevents him from driving. The gangrene is no problem – the sketchy lie and inability to think outside-the-box (Uber much?) are.
One of the questions on OKC – you answer a series of questions to determine how much of a match you are with other daters – has interested me of late.
“What makes for a better relationship: passion or dedication?”
I know enough about lasting relationships to believe dedication is the answer.
Could the issue be that people view passion as an all/nothing thing? Just like gender, passion operates on a sliding scale. Sometimes you will be attracted to your partner. Other times you won’t. It’s in those moments that dedication takes over – and you find the passion again.
Sometimes I wonder if other daters (men) think that “dedication” is an unsexy answer. I’ve never seen a guy answer “dedication.” I get it. It’s scary to think about getting stuck in a sexless relationship/marriage. Even girls don’t got time for dat. Maybe guys are answering based on girls’ perceptions. I guess if I saw a “dedication” answer I might think the guy was a bit feminine too.
If you believe recent studies – and Kate Hudson – monogamy is not a natural state for human beings. We can talk nation states, institutions and power vehicles that impose monogamy upon us, but that’s not the point. If you want to be in a monogamous relationship, know it will take work. Sometimes it’s ugly. If you’re looking for the happily-ever-after, you have to trudge through the unhappily-forabit-after. But did you know – men who help out around the house are found more desirable by their female mates? A prime example that demonstrates dedication can lead to passion, maybe a hotter passion than before.
I was recently involved with someone who deemed himself a gentleman, but arguably didn’t consistently act in that manner. The ambiguous feelings I had toward him have subsided. Time, and the recent horrific events in Santa Barbara, have brought some clarity. And more questions. I write this in the hope it invites further dialogue as it relates to the realm of male and female relationships, which mostly reflect on our relationships with ourselves.
My particular situation, which saw me ultimately acting without integrity (I comment-vomited on his new girl’s Instagram), had me questioning my own sanity, despite the hurt I felt at his hands. So what’s the tie between the “nice guy” and my “crazy girl” behavior?
The hidden gradations our society has for the roles of heterosexual men and women work against us and the gender-relations’ cause.
The alpha male. The slut. The girl-next-door. The stalker. The gentleman. The bachelor. These are the roles that limit our capacity to love in a whole way. These are the narratives we let ourselves believe in order to limit ourselves, to limit uncertainty and the discomfort of acknowledging our ever-changing identities.
Elliot Rodger’s mental state and his YouTube manifesto, describing his loneliness, his frustrations with being a virgin at 22 and at having never kissed a girl, are incredibly troubling. The mental-health issues aren’t things I’m going to get into, and in no way do I want to downplay their significance. It’s the idea that an entire community exists, one centered around picking up girls – frustrations with girls – “playing” girls, (not to mention the unspoken solidarity females can exhibit when complaining about men), that also troubles me. It’s an indication we may have lost our way.
An old roommate once summed it up nicely: We are all just looking for a profound love. The path to finding that love can make for bumps on the road, perhaps more for some than others. But these hiccups are simply leading us to a place where, not only do we love ourselves, we can be the best partner possible to someone else.
It reminds me of a favorite quote: God has put people in our lives so that we may be a blessing to them.
Binaries can help us make sense of our relationships, for a time, but they aren’t truths. If Elliot Rodger had been mentally able to take a leap of faith to look beyond the “narrative fallacy” of him being the nice guy, he may have found himself in another position. As a boyfriend. As a husband, and later as a father. Watching that video – I saw a boy who had decided something about himself years ago. The irony, of course, is that the girls he felt had rejected him are reconciling their own heteronormative relationship roles, and he used theirs (“sluts”) against them. And now there are six victims who won’t be able to love on this earth again.
We are more than these roles. In love, we take advantage of others and find ourselves taken advantage of. We act without integrity, and surprise ourselves with our restraint. We don’t need to pigeon-hole it, or why. If you’re stuck in a relationship-role box, I encourage you to question it. And never doubt how whole you were all along.
When I was 26 and on eHarmony, I put my geographical distance for matches at a solid 60 miles from my location. You start to re-think those decisions as you get older. I changed my eHarmony match parameters today – I am matching with anyone located in the 48 contiguous states (plus Hawaii and Alaska), who has also requested those parameters.
As I get older, I find that finding that important person has become, important. I’ve never told myself I wouldn’t relocate for love, but I haven’t been open to it. The thing is – taking a look at why we might not be open to relocating is important to figuring out where to go from there.
Deep, deep, deep (you have to dig really really deeply) down, I love Los Angeles. There is a busyness and hectic feeling to the city I don’t know if I could keep up with as I get older, and certainly money and the want for a house will become problems at some point, but my unwillingness to relocate does beg the question: do I truly believe I’m ready to meet my mate? If I knew 100% that I would meet the person I will eventually marry in a particular city in the next year, would I move? I *think* so.
I don’t see myself living in LA for the rest of my life. I can work in any city. I would prefer to live in a moderate climate, but I think I could acclimate to one not-so-moderate. So, why stay? Particularly when it feels like time is running out? Is a fairweather lover – in the form of a metropolis – a good enough reason to stay put during years that could become do-or-die?
On the one hand, wherever you go, there you are. Would Portland – a friendly utopia even for conservatives (I think?) – offer a better singles’ scene? Austin? Is it me I need to be working on? Isn’t the happiest version of me going to effortlessly fall into a relationship and maybe I just haven’t finished sculpting myself in that direction yet?
I don’t think we need to know the answers, and I think the answers change for us. A lot. Changing my parameters on eHarmony demonstrated a shift. It means I’m in a new spot, and I have new internal ground to excavate surrounding my perceptions and stigmas around relationships. I’m not the same dater I was at 26. Just looking at areas of improvement allows them to take hold in our minds; we can act/not act in accordance with them when we have further information that will allow us to move in the best direction for each of us.
Maybe, darnit, I’m really not ready.
My friend and I went to see the French-language film Amour – which translates to “Love” in English, obvi – Friday night. Because, Oscars. And the poster makes it look like we’re dealing with the ultimately redemptive power of love in a time of sickness and old age. SCORE
Well, this isn’t The Notebook friends. Amour has the old-age part, but not the redemptive-power-of-love theme. The film – directed and penned by the very Austrian Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon, The Piano Teacher) – tells the story of the lives of a retired Parisian couple after the wife suffers a stroke. She has an aversion to hospitals, and after an unsuccessful operation to clear the blocked artery that caused her stroke, she asks her husband to take care of her from then on only in their home. Having little contact with the outside world, the couple is forced to turn to and look at only one another and how they have lived their relationship.
Our protagonist husband, ever dutiful, is the shaky rock (is that possible?) for his wife as her health declines. Sometimes she is mopey and demanding. Other times, she seems content just to be with him. They read together. They reminisce. She learns new things about him, perhaps listening to him for the first time. Over the course of the film, her right side succumbs to paralysis and she suffers another stroke that leaves her bedridden. One remarkable scene ends with our husband slapping his wife out of frustration when she won’t drink the water he must feed her. The film ends with her death, which has its own implications.
Amour was jarring, uncomfortable, minimalistic. It had no score and no music aside from that which was a part of the actual story. The most thought-provoking aspect of Amour, for me, was the idea that love perhaps doesn’t have its own definition; it is instead an amalgam of things – at times confusion, dependency, despondency, intimacy, friendship, devotion. It cannot be defined itself, but only analyzed moment-by-moment for us to have any grasp of it. Could it even be reduced to being a “habit?”
And what of death in Amour? Perhaps it is human nature that will have us believe we are dead the moment we are diagnosed with a terminal illness or sick. But our immobilized, “dying” wife is still very much alive while lying in bed – capable of fear, contentment, frustration, the ability to feel physical pain and to continue to interact with her husband. Haneke seems to be saying that the quality of our lives can deteriorate, but our lives can still change up until the moment we take our last breath.
It’s a brave and purposeful move to title a film Amour. Your audience comes to you with preconceived, idealistic notions. Haneke – himself an aging, married artist – is ready to break you of those notions, however uncomfortable you may be, and considering I’m still thinking about the effed-up movie two days later, he succeeded.
Verdict: A well-done film. Not for everyone. Thought-provoking, depressing and European. Some could see it as hopeful; its sparseness and characterization were too gritty for me to want to label it optimistic.
“You’re a borderline compulsive liar.”
The words I heard last night whilst texting with the person I have been thinking of for months. The first words I thought of when I woke up this morning.
Somewhat out of the blue, the guy I dated over the summer – the one I thought I was in love with, texted me last night, willing to engage in more than the pleasantries we had awkwardly exchanged over the past few months. Somehow (doesn’t this always happen?), we got on the subject of singlehood. And loneliness. I mentioned that married couples could be lonely and bored too.
His response: “You’re married now, eh?”
“Yes! 15 days!” I responded, and I followed-up with a pic of my unadorned left hand indicating I was, in fact, not married.
What I got from his subsequent texts: this, among other similar behavior, makes me somewhat of a liar. It’s not intentional lying – and I’m not trying to hurt anyone, but I am exhausting. He has to decipher everything I say, figuring out if it’s a trick or a joke. Ultimately, he said I operate with “too much sarcasm/opposite/dry humor.”
I was floored. The texts were so jarring I felt like I was talking with a completely different human being. An all-out angry one. This was not the charming, kind person I had met in May. This was not the guy who brought me flowers and a Bluetooth, because he was concerned about me driving without one. What IN THE HECK happened?
I have an index card with an affirmation/inspirational quote on my wall. In my faded handwriting, it reads: “We find what we expect to find, and we receive what we ask for.”
There really is no ultimate answer as to “why” he and I expected what we expected from the other, but we did have expectations, and because of them, we conjured up two completely different people from the ones we actually are. Perhaps because of his past and nature, he expected that I would let him down. That I would act erratically. He reacted accordingly, viewing my texts through those filtered glasses. I did the same – putting on my he-is-charming glasses, assuming I did something wrong when he said things contrary to his always-charming nature. And I assumed or even expected that I wasn’t enough.
I don’t believe I am a compulsive liar, and I’m not sure there is anything I can say or do that will change his mind. I don’t think he is a bad person – he’s an individual, like the rest of us, doing the best with what he has. But I am too, and what I do with the knowledge of how I expect I am (wrong, good, bad, doing my best) and how I treat myself from here on out, is up to me.
I’ve never been in love. At least I don’t think.